Tag Archives: detox

Liver Rescue

Standard

If there is one organ in the body that could be deemed amazing, it is the liver. Our liver is not only the largest organ in our body (about the size of a football), it’s also one of the most hardworking. The liver acts acts as the body’s filter system. Anything we eat, drink, breath, touch, or come into contact with is filtered through the liver at some point. So, it’s not hard to imagine how a liver can become sluggish and bogged down when too much toxicity exists in your life.

The liver also serves a metabolic function and holds onto vitamins and minerals to be used by the body when needed. It breaks down fats, processes alcohol, regulates immune function in the body, aids in blood reproduction and regulation, and it can even regenerate itself after surgery or an injury. How amazing is that for one organ!

So with all these important roles of our liver, there is little reason to wonder why it’s so imperative to take care of it and try to keep it running as smooth as possible. But how can you do that, you might ask? First you need to know what is affecting your liver. Then it’s easier to find solutions to get it running better.

Toxins and heavy metals are in our everyday environment and they can affect how your liver performs. Think about the detergent you use in the laundry, or the cleaner used on your desk at work. It can even be the paint on the walls. It’s just next to impossible to eliminate certain chemicals from our life. It can be the exhaust from traffic, the type of beauty products you use, or even the swimming pool you go to during those warm summer months. But don’t freak out or feel you have to move into a mud house and give up showering or wearing clean clothes. Sure, some of these toxins we can’t avoid even if we tried, it’s the world we live in today. But there are ways to eliminate so many chemicals in your life, which I will discuss further down.

Viruses and bacteria can also harm the liver. Because the liver plays a role in our immune system and with our blood, viruses can cause the liver to run slow and sluggish. That’s why certain autoimmune diseases and and other illnesses can damage the liver. You must also be watchful of medication because there are many out there that affect the liver since medicine is metabolized in the bloodstream. And remember your water source! Many water systems have been polluted with medications and other drugs, and can still have an affect on the body despite going through the harsh cleaning process regulated by city governments. It just goes to show you need to look at the source of what you eat and drink before you stick it in your body.

So what can you do to help your liver? First off, it starts with the foods you eat. If you can get leafy greens incorporated into your daily routine, you are already doing the liver a load of good. Other veggies, like celery, broccoli, asparagus, and tomatoes are also foods that keep your liver functioning at maximum capacity. Berries, apples, bananas are some fruits which can help keep the liver working properly.

Drinking plenty of filtered water and limiting the amount of alcohol and caffeine are two ways to ease the load on your liver. Because the liver is our body’s filtration system, it has to process both of these stimulants. Having too much of them can cause the liver to become sluggish, which starts a domino effect on the rest of your body. So try to limit your intake to one drink a day (or a couple times a week) and maybe just one cup of coffee in the morning instead of, say, four?

Sugar is another culprit, and eliminating refined sugars from your diet will not only help your liver out, it will do wonders for the rest of your body. Refined sugars have such detrimental effects on the body, it would take an entirely new post to just address that issue! It’s also important to assess how much fat and protein you have in your diet because those can make a difference in how your liver functions. It’s kinda like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, your body needs just the right amount of everything to function properly. Too much or too little throws everything out of whack.

Other ways to inadvertently help your liver is by finding way to eliminate some of the chemicals I wrote about earlier. Pesticides and fertilizers are an obvious area, and that can be reduced by buying organic, going to farmers markets, or washing non-organic produce with warm water and non-scented soap. This last little trick may help in the finance department since many organic products can be costly on a person’s budget.

Many large companies are getting on the bandwagon to offer cleaning products and personal beauty products that are free of dyes, perfumes, and other synthetic chemicals. So it’s easier to find items to purchase at places like Wall-Mart, Target, or your local grocery store. Just remember read those labels before you purchase! Many times these products are more expensive, but can still contain some of the toxins you are trying to eliminate. I look for companies that have plant-based product lines and I try to steer clear of dyes and perfumes that are not derived from natural oils.

When it comes to any kind of detox, liver or no, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and frustrated. But don’t do this to yourself. The liver is an amazing organ and even the littlest change in your lifestyle can make a huge difference. Just take things one step at a time based on your personal needs and what your budget allows. Creating a healthy lifestyle is about doing things you can remember and easily fit into your normal routines. Otherwise the trend will pass and you will go back to old habits.

If you have any questions or need advice, you can e-mail me at samantha@lifestylelistener.com or visit my website at http://www.lifestylelistener.com. Facebook (Lifestyle Listener) and Instagram (@lifestyle_listener) also have daily posts on healthy tips and tricks to help create a healthier you.

Until next time,

Cheers!

To Brew or Not To Brew…

Standard

As many of my close friends and family know, I am a big health nut.  I love learning about new healthy techniques to keep my body strong and as free of toxins as possible.  Last year my dear friend (she knows I am completely into anything “organic” or “detoxifying”) shared a bit of knowledge she learned from a close buddy.  It was about a beverage called Kombucha Tea.

Many of you have probably heard of this drink.  It has been the latest rage in the natural-living trend encompassing our society the past couple of decades.  If you haven’t heard of it, don’t let the name fool you.  This beverage is not your typical glass of Lipton tea.  Although its origins come from ancient China (research has found that people began making it some 2000 years ago), this “tea” is a result of fermenting a bacterial culture in a brew made of filtered water, sugar and usually a green or black tea blend.  But please don’t go into hysterics at the mention of drinking something that is a derivative of bacteria.  This particular bacterium is good for your gut!

When I first heard of this beverage I drove to my local natural food store and picked up a couple of bottles so I could give it a go.  Despite the steep price, I loved it!  First off, I used to be a diet soda addict.  I craved its tangy sweetness and carbonation.  The Kombucha I tried had similar qualities.  It was tangy, with just a hint of sweetness on the finish.  The tea was also carbonated.  Here was a total replacement for the beverage I grudgingly gave up last year.

I continued to go to my local health food store and pick up four bottles every week, cringing each time I forked over the money to the sales clerk.  I justified the price for all the great health benefits this tangy beverage provided for my body.  If you are wondering what the benefits are, you can do a google search and find mutltiple websites for it.  That is what I did when I first learned of it, and the more I read the more I knew this drink was something I needed in my daily diet.

For starters, Kombucha is considered to be a great probiotic, something we tend to need more and more these days thanks to a lot of the processed foods and chemicals we are willingly (and unwillingly) exposed too.  The probiotics keep the digestive track running properly, helping cleanse the body of those nasty toxins swimming around in our gut.   Having a healthy gut also helps keep your immune system running better, so you could attribute Kombucha to that as well!  Some people claim it has cancer-curing aspects or the B vitamins and detoxifying minerals help cure other diseases.  I don’t know if this is true or not, but I figure a little of it in moderation definitely can’t hurt you.  So I keep on drinking.

Talking probiotics and fermentation, I bet you are wondering what is really in Kombucha?  Kombucha Tea comes from fermenting a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast).  SCOBYs can have many names, such as “mother,” “baby” or just simply “culture.”  What you have to be aware of when buying a SCOBY is that the culture is sealed in a sterile environment with its starter liquid (which is just about a cup of Kombucha tea).  Don’t drink or make Kombucha from dried or dehydrated SCOBYs, it’s not good eats people.

Here is my healthy SCOBY that I have already used twice to make my own Kombucha:

Image

Image

So how does one avoid paying the price (somewhere around $4 a bottle) on a weekly basis when we know this stuff is pretty good for us?  Simple, make it at home.  Once I did a little research online and talked to a few Kombucha-drinking friends, I realized that I didn’t have to set aside a separate trust fund to keep Kombucha stocked in my fridge.  I could just make it myself!

It is actually extremely easy to do, and after you get that first batch under your belt and work out your brewing kinks, you too can have Kombucha tea flowing freely in your home.  The best web site I have found, based on a friend’s recommendation, has been kombuchakamp.com.  This site is owned and operated by Hannah Crum, and she has been brewing Kombucha and educating countless other individuals on the benefits of this drink.  Her site is easily navigable and she even has a starter kit for first-time brewers, such as myself.  It is what I purchased before I made my first Kombucha brew.  Hannah offers lots of great video tutorials if you get stuck on something, and you can even e-mail or call her to get tips.  Her SCOBYs are 100% quality product, and she uses all organic tea blends and sugars in her kits.  I would definitely recommend visiting this site if you think you want to start making your own Kombucha tea.

Image

Kombuchakamp.com has easy, step-by-step guides to brewing the tea at home. Now we need to make sure you have the right equipment.  Here is what you will need to make your first brew:

–A 1-gallon glass jar, preferably with a wide opening

–Organic black, green or herbal tea blend (you can use loose-leaf tea or bags)

–A piece of cloth and rubber band, large enough to cover and secure to the top of your glass jar

–Organic sugar, turbinado is best (don’t use artificial sweeteners or “diet” sugars-it can mess up your SCOBY and interfere with brewing)

–I SCOBY with starter liquid

–A tea pot/kettle

Make sure you also have a warm, dark place to brew your tea.  Laundry room counters or the top of refrigerators are some great places.  You just need to be sure the temp is between 70-80 degrees and that airflow is consistent around the jar.

It might seem intimidating to think about brewing something that contains bacteria, but really it is very simple and if you follow the guidelines you will be successful.  If you haven’t tried Kombucha tea before, go out and buy a bottle to see if you like it.  And if you do, then save some hard-earned dollars and make your own at home!  You can also flavor your home-made Kombucha.  I like to use ginger, mint, fresh strawberries, goji berries, blueberries, even lavender.  The world is your oyster when it comes to flavor combinations.  Here are my two Kombuchas with ginger/mint/goji berry and POM juice/strawberry/mint.  Delish!

Image

To learn more about Kombucha, visit www.kombuchakamp.com

Now, for your wine tip of the day.  Kombucha is a very unique beverage, and its taste and carbonation remind me of one of my absolute favorite wines to drink:  Champagne!

Champagne may not have the health benefits of Kombucha, but I love how the tartness and bubbles remind me of this unique wine.  Not all sparkling wine is Champagne, but all Champagne is sparkling wine.  To be called “Champagne,” the wine MUST come from the Northeast region of France…the Champagne region.  Otherwise the bubbly beverage will be referred to as “sparkling wine. “

Champagne can be made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes, or it can also be made with from dark-skinned grapes such as Pinot Noir.  Many Champagne wines are a blend of these grapes, which gives vineyards their distinctive flavors.  Some will be sweet (Demi-sec or Doux), some semi-dry (Brut) and others will be bone-dry (Extra brut).  Depending on your taste for wine, you choose the level of sweet-to-dry ratio.

Many people only reserve Champagne for “special occasions,” such as birthdays, graduations or weddings.  But I love to just pop open a bottle on a random Wednesday night.  Why not?  Isn’t life worth celebrating every day?  Don’t put Champagne in a separate category that restricts your ability to drink it whenever you want.  It can be a great starter wine at parties before you open the heavy-hitter red wines.  Or you can have it to go with a light seafood or chicken dish.

There are many different kinds of Champagne out there, and lots of different prices.  But if you need a go-to label, I would search Roederer Estate.  I always keep a bottle of this around my house and it won’t empty your wallet.  The flavors are outstanding, much like a Dom Pérignon, but for around $25 a bottle.  I can even buy this at my local grocery store.  There are many big-name Champagne labels, such as Krug, Bollinger and the aforementioned Dom.  But to me, the wine can make just as big a statement without a hefty price tag.  So save the Dom for your “special occasion” and open the Roederer Estate to celebrate surviving a Monday.

Until next time, cheers!